Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Battlestar Galactica: Hero

The Upshot from Sci-Fi Channel: Admiral Adama (Edward James Olmos) must confront the darkest moment of his military career when Lt. Daniel "Bulldog" Novacek (Carl Lumbly), a pilot believed killed years ago during a secret mission under Adama's command, escapes from Cylon custody and arrives on the Galactica.

Please forgive the extreme delay in posting our review of the latest BSG but FanBoyWonder’s day job has us traveling in Phoenix and we had to catch the Monday evening encore broadcast.

Hero wasn’t so much a sub-par episode so much as it simply seemed incomplete. In the past, the BSG staff have crafted episodes that were written too long for the time allotted, which had to be cut down for time so we hope that there is extra Hero footage on the editing room floor that might someday find its way onto the Season 3 DVD because THAT is the episode that would be worth seeing.

The episode opens with one Cylon raider headed for Galactica being chased by two others. When the pursing raiders are destroyed, the wounded raider sends out a radio calling himself “Bulldog.” Adama orders the craft escorted onto Galactica where the pilot that Bill Adama once knew emerges from the enemy fighter.

Lt. Novacek, formerly of the Battlestar Valkyrie—Adama’s previous command before Galactica—had been a Cylon prisoner-of-war for the past three years—taken prisoner and presumed dead a full year before the Cylon attack on the Twelve Colonies.

We learn via a flashback that Commander Adama of the Battlestar Valkyrie had been ordered by the Colonial Fleet Admiralty. Bulldog was the pilot Adama sent in a stealth ship on the wrong side of the armistice line to hunt for evidence of Cylon military preparations.

When Bulldog’s ship is attacked by an unknown but presumably Cylon ship, Adama orders a ship-to-ship missile launched to destroy the spy ship, the pilot and any evidence of a Colonial incursion—an act of war.

Adama confesses his heretofore deep-dark secret to his son Apollo (Jamie Bamber) while Col. Tigh (Michael Hogan), who also served as Adama’s XO aboard the Valkyrie, spills the beans to Bulldog. With the spy mission a failure, Adama’s transfer to Galactica, a soon-to-be decommissioned museum ship, was seen as a graceful, if forced retirement.

It’s soon discovered, shortly after he beats Adama to within an inch of his life, that Bulldog was allowed to escape and Tigh talks him out his homicidal intent.

Adama, still guilt-ridden, in what he sees as his provocation of the Cylon attack, attempts to tender his resignation to President Roslin (Mary McDonnell). She refuses and offers a punishment of a different sort—he is to accept a medal of valor for his 45 years of military service, not for himself but for the fleet who need a hero.

As an honorable man, Roslin knows it will be painful for Adama to accept a citation he knows he doesn’t deserve but it is exactly the sort of cross he needs to bear in order to assuage his guilt.

This episode as has so much promise and the premise was sound but it was definitely not ready for prime-time. So many unanswered questions—Why was Bulldog kept alive for so long by the Cylons and exactly why was he released? How does the crew know he is no longer brainwashed?

What was truly squandered in this episode was a rare moment of fallibility and weakness by Adama. Edward James Olmos is a suburb actor but his confession of guilt to his son fell flat—both due to weak scripting and a poor directing choice to cut between Adama and Apollo and Tigh and Bulldog. Olmos could have made the scene work if he had been given full command of the camera instead of competing with dueling scenes.

Even worse is the under-utilization of a veteran character actor such as Carl Lumbly (best know to us fanboys as the voice of the Martian Manhunter on Cartoon Network’s Justice League Unlimited). The writers have left the door open for the more appearances of Bulldog.

We hope this will happen, both because Novacek would be one of the few characters that Adama considers a peer, but we also long to see what Lumbly, as a top-shelf actor, can bring to the table with better material.


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